Would Jesus vote Republican?

Republican logo and Cross
REPUBLICANS AND JESUS. What attracts so many Christians to the Republican Party? Elephant art by DonkeyHotey/ flickr; Cross photo by Wikimedia.

AS WE APPROACH ANOTHER PRESIDENTIAL ELECTION, we’re seeing a lot of Christians once again rallying around the Republicans.

Some are saying pretty nasty stuff about any so-called Christians who vote Democrat.

Sometimes it’s not that blatant.

A blog headline can read that Obama’s healthcare reform might put a Christian employer out of business. The tag line follows: go vote. Meaning, in context, go vote Republican.

No mention of the flip side of the healthcare issue: that the reform is going to give healthcare to a lot of people who couldn’t otherwise afford it.

Papa John’s CEO, John Schnatter—reportedly a generous supporter of his local church—told his shareholders in August that he’d have to raise the price of pizza 15-20 cents if the reform law is fully enacted. Last year, Forbes magazine ranked him number 17 on the list of wealthiest people under age 40. Net worth: $240 million.

Some might wonder why he doesn’t raise the pizza price now if that’s all it takes to provide the rest of his employees with healthcare coverage.

Wouldn’t that be a Christian thing to do? Some wonder.

Christianity’s Republican-leaning politics seem particularly odd in this election, some say, what with the Republican being a Mormon—identified in most Christian curriculum as a cult—and the Democrat being a Christian.

During a past election cycle, I led a Bible study session called “Christians in the Voting Booth.” I wanted the group to talk about how the Bible affects the way we vote.

We read some of the most basic teachings of Jesus, which involve loving your neighbor as yourself and helping the helpless.

Here was the surprise waiting for me:

Many Christians in the group didn’t warm up to political policies that seemed to target those kinds of concerns:

  • better healthcare
  • improved education
  • laws that create a level playing field for rich and poor alike

Instead, the discussion spun around a desire for smaller government, lower taxes, and a stronger military.

What’s Christian about that?

Some Christians seem genuinely eager for an answer.

I have no idea how Jesus would vote in this election. But I would expect that his explanation for the vote would line up with his teaching.

I believe there are good and godly reasons to vote for any of the major parties. But as Christians, I’m not sure we talk enough about what they are and how they track with our faith.

Any thoughts about why Christians you know vote the way they do, whether Democrat, Republican, or one of the other options?

Comments

  1. Greg Burke says

    I have observed people on both sides of the political spectrum offer scripture to defend their own choice. I don’t think Christ would be concerned at all with political party affiliation. HIs message of loving, sharing and caring should be all any Christian should need in determining which candidate should get their vote.

    • says

      Good response, Greg.

      I find myself wishing that Christians could talk politely about the details of their different perspectives–the nuts and bolts of why they think one candidate better reflects their faith than another.

      Instead, we tend to get angry and we “unlike” or “unfriend” people we love. Just because they don’t agree with us. It’s sad, it seems to me, that we have so much trouble talking kindly about our faith.

  2. Sgrisetti says

    Some interesting thoughts, Steve — and a few sure to spark controversy.

    Christians as a whole have been associated themselves with the Republican right since the Reagan era.

    Though, ironically, until FDR’s administration, Republicans were considered the country’s liberals, the party originally having been formed in the mid-1800s to support the anti-slavery movement.

    But in my opinion, Jesus would probably have been more of a libertarian than a follower of either major political party. He definitely wanted to see a nation feed its poor and help its friendless — but he wanted it to be an individual decision to do so, not a government program.

    • says

      About the individual vs government program for helping people, I don’t think Jesus would have disapproved of a majority voting to provide their citizens with healthcare, a college education, and housing for the homeless. To mention just a few examples. There are some things we can do more effectively as a group than we can do individually. Big endeavors, like a public highway system, national defense, healthcare, and education seem to cry out for a nationwide strategy.

  3. Joe Taylor says

    Steve, I agree with the comments that Jesus would be unconcerned by political parties. He called for each of us to feed the hungry and clothe the poor, not vote for a government to do it for you. Government programs have never worked as well or as efficiently religion based nonprofits. I know there are examples of misguided religious “charities,” but they will have to answer for their deeds.

    • says

      Thanks, Joe. That’s a point I hear a lot from many of my Christian friends. That the good deeds should be done, but not by the government. I wonder if the difference of opinion is over what we believe is the nature of the government. Some Christians seem to see the government as “Them.” Others see the government as “Us.” Those who see it as “Us” figure that working together, as the United States, instead of the Individual States, we can accomplish together what we can’t accomplish individually or as smaller groups.

  4. Debbie Coffman says

    Well, I wrote a whole lot of stuff, but felt checked about sending it. Not that it was confrontational, but because I am intimidated to express myself to someone that writes books for a living. lol

    I think a good question would be, “Why do Democrats vote the way they do, & why do Republicans vote the way they do? Nothing really to do with Christianity. Why are we wired to vote/support the way we do?

    And, for the record, I don’t think Jesus would vote for either candidate. They both support abortion in one way or another. (*GASP* She had to go there!)

    • says

      Hey, thanks Debbie. I appreciate your sensitivity. We need more of it. But don’t feel intimidated by me. My Bible study class certainly doesn’t.

      I think your questions are excellent.

      For me, I’m looking for candidates who will help us figure out a way to help the helpless, and who will stand up to the rich and powerful in an effort to level the playing field in jobs, healthcare, and legal matters.

      While we’re at it, I’d like to see healthcare for everyone, whether they can afford it or not. College for everyone with the brainpower to handle it, whether they can afford it or not. And homes for the homeless, since most of the homeless people are ill in some way and not homeless by choice.

      I’m not particularly keen on the “every man for himself” approach to politics. That’s not the kind of person I am with my family, my friends, or my community. If I have my choice, and I do when it comes to voting, I’d like us to be a people who pull together and who help one another. If we get a majority willing to do that, great. Until then, I’ll be doing what I can with my Coalition of the Willing–the kindred spirits in my herd.

  5. Wayne Sacchi says

    I love this blog Stephen — the truth of the matter is that Jesus wouldn’t vote Republican, Democratic, Libertarian or any other party. Being the Creator of the universe he doesn’t need their approval since he is the Sovereign for all eternity and can’t be voted out, even though humanity would crucify him again if they could pull him off his throne. I am sick and tired of this election and all the falsehoods from both sides! Now concerning “morality” how can the fact that Obama has spent 900 million dollars and Romney has spent 800 million dollars (not including all the Super pact money) — over a billion dollars wasted! Whoever gets elected — I pray they put an end to this madness. The political system is broken and corrupted by money — there is nothing “moral” about all this waste and deception.

    • says

      Wayne, I think you’re right. The funding of elections is the underlying problem of nearly everything. Politicians local and national represent the big donors, not the little guys. And it’s the little guys who need represented. We need to take fundraising out of the mix. It corrupts, I do believe.

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